Spring Break in Atlanta: 5 Unmissable Experiences

The perfect guide to planning an unforgettable spring break.

Georgia Aquarium – Where the Ocean Meets the Skyline

Skip the sandy sandwiches, sunburn, and mid-day thunderstorms and embark on an unforgettable adventure. Rain or shine, our fully indoor experience ensures a perfect day of exploration and excitement. Experience eight captivating galleries showcasing thousands of fascinating marine animals, including remarkable sharks and playful otters – it’s like eight vacation destinations all in one place. Immerse yourself in the magic of our daily animal presentations or meet them up close in our animal encounters. Where else can you swim with whale sharks, play with dolphins, AND dance with sea lions? Georgia Aquarium promises a journey filled with discovery and awe-inspiring moments. 

For kids ages 5-10 years old, check out our new Spring Break Camp H2O! From April 1 through 5, campers will spend the week engaged in fun and exciting activities. They will discover interesting facts about our aquatic friends and explore the vast ocean ecosystem. All Aquarium galleries and presentations are included.​

Make this Spring Break one to remember – dive into the extraordinary at Georgia Aquarium!

Attend the Atlanta Science Festival 

It’s our favorite annual Atlanta spring tradition! The Atlanta Science Festival is an annual celebration of the world-class learning and STEM career opportunities in metro Atlanta. Engineered by Science Atlanta and 80+ community partners – including Georgia Aquarium. Featuring 100+ engaging events covering a range of science topics geared towards all ages. This festival is committed to expanding access to science learning in the Atlanta area. Take part in all the fun happening March 9-23, 2024. 

Don’t miss Georgia Aquarium’s event – Saving the Seas, on Saturday, March 16. Dive into the world of marine research and conservation to experience firsthand what it’s like to be a marine conservationist. As a leader in ocean conservation, Georgia Aquarium will be hosting a presentation focusing on different conservation projects, from protecting our coral reefs to the re-establishment of zebra sharks to protecting key species. Explore threats facing our environment through interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities based on Aquarium-wide initiatives. Tickets are required for this event for both Aquarium members and non-members. 

Check out the festival’s online schedule and register for these exciting events! Stay up to date on all things #ATLSciFest by following @ATLSciFest.

Head to the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Spring has sprung at the Atlanta Botanical Garden! With over 30 acres of outdoor gardens, it’s nestled in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. You don’t want to miss the annual spring Orchid Daze and Atlanta Blooms, celebrating thousands of beautiful, fragrant orchids and tulips in bloom. 

Are they looking for some outdoor, family-friendly activities for spring break? Check out Spring Break Science Camp, where kids can experiment with plant engineering, adaptations, and seasonal changes. The Garden also offers Spring Break Family Fun – the whole family can partake in seasonal activities like storybook time and gardening activities for free with garden admission.

Cheer on Your Favorite Atlanta Teams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

With a capacity of 93,000 fans, feel Atlanta’s pride and support one of the city’s biggest sports teams. 

As Atlanta becomes the hub for US soccer, join the legendary Atlanta United FC fans for a match and experience The Golden Spike. The Home Depot Backyard is also a hub for home game tailgating! Check out their calendar to see all the upcoming events.

Experience the History of America’s Game at The College Football Hall of Fame

The College Football Hall of Fame aims to inspire and entertain by celebrating the passion and traditions of college football and its greatest players and coaches. Immerse yourself in college football history this spring break and experience the new Microsoft Gaming Lounge. Described as fun, interactive, educational, and entertaining – this new exhibit allows attendees to play video football games on Xbox systems. The Microsoft Gaming Lounge’s opening is timely as a new NCAA football video game will return in 2024 after nearly a decade offline. 

Save on your Atlanta Spring Break experiences with CityPASS. This one pass gives you discounted access to five of Atlanta’s family-friendly downtown attractions.

Saluting Service

Dive into the Heart of Our Military Salute Program Through the Eyes of Our Dedicated Staff

Saluting Service

By Jason Bush, Manager, Military Salute Program at Georgia Aquarium

How My Journey Began

I grew up in South Florida, doing anything and everything in and around the water that I possibly could – from fishing, skiing, and kayaking, to snorkeling, surfing, and saltwater aquarium keeping. I was quite fond of the ocean and marine life. So much so, that I played a valuable role in getting a grant from the school board to have saltwater aquariums in my high school oceanography and marine biology classrooms. I was even the sole caretaker of them. 

I joined the United States Marine Corps in August of 1998 and stayed on active duty until August 2003, with an additional two years as an inactive reserve. During that time, I participated in several deployments, including Operation Determined Response when the USS Cole was attacked in 2000, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq, and the Battle of Nasiriyah.

My passion for the ocean started when I was young. I always wanted to dive as a kid but could never afford it. While on my first deployment in Thailand in 2000, I opted to obtain my open-water certification and my love for diving began. Later I obtained Dive Master, Public Safety Diver, Rescue Diver, Underwater Criminal Investigator, and several other certifications. I am currently working on my instructor certification. 

Service After Serving

Like many veterans returning from combat with invisible wounds, I too, returned a different person with wounds that cut deep, but without truly realizing it or plain refusing to. In 2009, I was referred to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), where I attended an outdoor rehabilitative mental health retreat. After nearly six years of feeling lost, this is where I realized I was not alone and found the hope I was missing.

I continued attending events, connecting with fellow veterans and resources that would give me the ability to accept nothing but the best of myself again. I fought to find that new normal and get to a place where I could give back and help fellow veterans who were also struggling. In 2013, a position opened up at WWP, facilitating the very retreat that was the first turning point in my life post-war. I would remain with WWP for the next 10 years, hosting 10-14 retreats per year for both veterans and couples. My time with WWP would conclude on the outreach team, where I was fortunate enough to work with Georgia Aquarium’s Military Salute both in-house and in the field.

I wholeheartedly believe in the holistic healing nature can bring us if we allow it to, especially the water. The peace I feel underwater is almost indescribable. I want to share this experience with every veteran I can dealing with both the visible and invisible wounds of war. Diving is something that can be adaptable to any disability, making it a healthy coping mechanism for a wide range of injuries and ailments.

Saluting Military Service 

In early 2023, I was told that the Military Salute Manager position at Georgia Aquarium would soon become available. Having seen this incredible program in action first-hand through WWP, I deeply believed in its efficacy and the benefits that it gave to all participants and wanted to help this program reach new heights. It was a huge leap of faith when I was offered the position, but I believed in myself and this program. I accepted the challenge and started my adventure as Military Salute Manager in April 2023. It will be challenging to take the program to the next level. But the result will be worth the effort if it means that the program can stretch beyond the walls of the Aquarium – and hopefully the state of Georgia – reaching as many veterans as possible.

When did the Military Salute Program begin?

  • Georgia Aquarium’s Military Salute program first began as part of the Veterans Immersion Program back in 2005, when the first guests to participate in the Journey with Gentle Giants swim and dive program were a group of wounded veterans.

Who does it serve?

  • Military Salute currently serves wounded, ill, and/or injured veterans along with their families, Gold Star Families, and several non-veteran groups, such as Children Healthcare of Atlanta and Shepherd Center patients.

What is its purpose?

  • The purpose of Military Salute is to introduce and promote the healing nature of the underwater world to our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured heroes and their families by engaging in camaraderie, recreation, education, service, and conservation efforts through programs within the Aquarium and programs held outside our walls.

Unlocking the Healing Power of our Ocean in Key Largo 

For the first time in 2023, our veteran’s field program traveled to Key Largo, FL, to work with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). I, along with members from our dive immersion, dive safety, and dive operations teams were joined by a group of wounded, injured, and/or ill veterans. These participants joined us through organizations we currently partner with, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, Patriots for Disabled Divers, and H20 who help connect us with potential program candidates.

Weather is always an unpredictable factor when diving. Fortunately, CRF has plenty of projects to engage in both in and out of water. During our trip in August, we participated in inspecting and cleaning man-made coral trees within the in-water nursery. These platforms provide a space for the staghorn corals to grow until they reach a size suitable for transplantation to local reefs. During another trip down to Key Largo in December, we were unable to dive due to weather conditions. But we worked on land building a dozen coral trees used specifically for growing boulder corals. We then took that newfound knowledge and utilized it to help us identify the corals amongst the reefs that had been planted by CRF. Additionally, we were able to dive in a few reef areas and recovered fishing lines and various tackles found attached to reef structures.

Check out our veteran’s field program trip to Key Largo, FL.

The Future of Military Salute

Currently, our veteran’s field program has funds for an annual trip that focuses on education, conservation, and service. We hope to expand and include additional trips in the future, partnering with marine sanctuaries and other organizations whose mission aligns with that of Georgia Aquarium and Military Salute.

The outdoors, nature, and the underwater world are extremely healing for those who struggle with visible and invisible wounds. This program is especially meaningful because it provides, not only, a unique and healing environment for veterans within the Aquarium, but also offers opportunities outside the Aquarium to participate in missions of service through engaging underwater conservation projects. This gives veterans purpose on a larger scale that can be hard to find post-active duty. Engaging in service again is often the key ingredient in the healing process for our veterans. At the very core of this program, is the opportunity for veterans and their families to reconnect, re-engage, and heal alongside like-minded individuals. This is our mission and what we aim to provide for years to come.

Personal Passion

All unique programs under the Military Salute are important to me because my passion is rooted in actively serving my fellow wounded veterans and their families. There’s no greater honor for me than being a part of helping them to find their “new normal”. Helping their healing begin or continuing to utilize this unique and holistic approach. The reason I am here today is because of individuals and organizations over the past 20 years who have encouraged and pushed me to connect with my inner strength, not give up on myself, and strive to find that new normal so that I can live my life intentionally with purpose and fulfillment.

As an organization, we have the ability and means to change lives. Not by re-creating the wheel, but by being another spoke of support in the lives of the men, women, and families that have given so much so that we can enjoy the freedoms we do today.

A Look At 2024 – Georgia Aquarium Experiences

Plan Your 2024 Trip to Georgia Aquarium: A Look at What’s Ahead

A new year brings exciting new opportunities that promise a year filled with awe-inspiring events, remarkable exhibitions, and unforgettable experiences at Georgia Aquarium. Let’s dive into what’s in store at the Aquarium in 2024 as you plan a year’s worth of visits with your Resident Pass:

Spectacular Sea-sonal Sights:

Experience the excitement of our seasonal events! Every weeknight throughout June, soak up the rhythmic rays of summer Sound Waves Music Series, where live music meets the ocean. Sound Waves is more than live music, with a mission to celebrate local Atlanta artists while you connect with the ocean’s magnificent species.

In October, you don’t want to miss the spine-tingling excitement of Haunted Seas! See as the Aquarium transforms into the site of a spooky shipwreck. This fully immersive experience brings new characters, tales, sights, and trick-or-treats in a one-of-a-kind Aquarium experience you won’t want to miss.

And, of course, there’s no better way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than during Holidays at Georgia Aquarium. Experience the magic of the winter season by taking in the sights and sounds of our completely transformed atrium with festive music, winter-inspired projections, daily lighting of our tree, a holiday-themed dolphin presentation, and the best photo-op with Santa in Atlanta! We cannot wait to see you throughout the year at all these spectacular events.

New Year, New Exhibit! – Get an Exclusive Sneak Peek:

Be one of the first to experience our latest exhibit! Opening this summer, our new Explorers Cove is sure to captivate guests of all ages with new hands-on experiences. This new exhibit will feature two expansive, interactive touch pools where guests can engage with sharks, rays, guitarfish, and sturgeon like never before. It will also house a captivating marsh environment for young explorers to experience the wetland ecosystem up close. Finally, guests use immersive technology to create their own species by drawing a digital animal and watch as it swims and interacts on a giant video wall with other animal creations. 

Uncover a new experience, new species, and a new opportunity to learn about the wonders of our world’s aquatic wildlife. Want to be the first to know all the updates on this new exhibit? Be sure to follow our social channels @GeorgiaAquarium and subscribe to our Newsletter for all the latest Aquarium news! 

Dive Into our Reimagined Dolphin Presentation:

This summer, we are excited to unveil our fin-tasticly rejuvenated dolphin presentation! Witness the grace, intelligence, and sheer splendor of these incredible creatures, as they dazzle you with their agility and charm. ‘Destination: Dolphin’ will explore the world of bottlenose dolphins and the pivotal role they play in understanding the health of our world’s oceans. This experience is fully immersive – with upbeat music, lighting, and effects – and a special surprise for those who dare to sit in the soak zone. It’s an experience that’ll leave you in awe of the ocean’s most beloved ambassadors. 

Enhance Your Experience:

No visit is the same at Georgia Aquarium – elevate your adventure by exploring our array of add-on experiences. Go Behind the Seas with an exclusive tour, where you’ll glimpse the inner workings of the Aquarium. Experience the joy of meeting your favorite animal up close and personal during an unforgettable animal encounter. Drink, dine, and dance the night away at our next Sips Under the Sea. Prefer to unwind while surrounded by the soothing sights of the sea? Grab a friend for a Wellness by the Water class and namaste with manta rays. Create selfie-worthy moments and foster a deeper connection with our world’s oceans during your next visit. 

Revitalized River Scout:

Anticipation has been building for the grand reveal of River Scout’s renovation in early spring 2024, where the spotlight will soon shine on the captivating African tigerfish. This revamped freshwater gallery promises an immersive experience, featuring a diverse array of species like Asian small-clawed otters, giant African puffers, and the fearsome piranhas, alongside eel-like Ropefish. As rainforest meets river, experience River Scout revitalized into a vibrant freshwater ecosystem. 

A Downtown Gem: 

Conveniently located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium is the perfect complement to your day out. Whether you’re heading to a sporting event, concert, or exploring other attractions, maximize your visit by adding the Aquarium to your itinerary. Frequent visitor? Pay for a day and come back all year with a 2024 Resident Pass (some blackout dates apply). Planning a weekend getaway? Check out CityPass to save on Atlanta’s top attractions, including Georgia Aquarium. Immerse yourself in the ocean’s wonders and make your day an adventure to remember.


Prepare for a year of wonder, excitement, and unparalleled experiences at Georgia Aquarium. Become stewards of our world’s precious ocean while creating memories that will last a lifetime. Your next adventure awaits at Georgia Aquarium! What will you discover?

All of these exciting enhancements are included in your general admission ticket or Resident Pass.

Georgia Aquarium Receives First Gold Certification from WheelChariot

WheelChariot is a platform focused on improving accessibility for people with disabilities.

Georgia Aquarium has achieved a remarkable milestone by becoming the first Gold Certified organization recognized by WheelChariot, a pioneering platform dedicated to promoting accessibility for people with disabilities. This distinctive certification underscores the Aquarium’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity, making it a leading accessible destination in the Atlanta metro area.


WheelChariot is a local Georgia-based organization, founded by graduates from the Georgia Institute of Technology, whose focus is forming a more inclusive society where everyone has equal access to goods and services. WheelChariot’s platform provides businesses with the tools and insights needed to enhance accessibility and foster an environment of inclusion. By providing a unique opportunity for businesses to receive first-hand feedback, engage with and learn from a vibrant community dedicated to improving accessibility; WheelChariot helps businesses, like Georgia Aquarium, improve their accommodations based on real user experiences.


“We at WheelChariot are deeply grateful and immensely proud of Georgia Aquarium’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity,” said Gabriel Jones, CEO of WheelChariot. “Their decision to trust in a homegrown initiative spearheaded by Georgia entrepreneurs speaks volumes of their dedication not only to superior guest experiences but also to fostering a supportive local community. As passionate advocates for Atlanta, we dream of seeing our beloved city become a leading hub for accessible tourism. Georgia Aquarium’s trailblazing achievement in receiving the first WheelChariot Gold Certification not only marks a significant milestone in their journey towards inclusivity but also sets an exemplary model for others. We fervently hope that their leadership and commitment inspire many more establishments to join us in this vital endeavor. Together, we can make Atlanta a beacon for accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring that every visitor, regardless of ability, enjoys the rich, diverse experiences our city has to offer.”


Through the WheelChariot for Business initiative, establishments like Georgia Aquarium not only have the opportunity to highlight their commendable efforts, but also gain public-facing certification. This certification allows businesses to proudly promote their commitment to inclusivity, assuring visitors of their dedication to providing accessible experiences for all.


In 2018, Georgia Aquarium became the first aquarium designated as a Certified Autism Center.

Last fall, it was named KultureCity’s Sensory Inclusive Venue of the Year for training more than 80% of staff and volunteers on compassionately and effectively working with guests on the autism spectrum and providing sensory features for those who need or want them. Georgia Aquarium is also honored to have hosted more than 2,900 military personnel and guests who have been physically, emotionally, or mentally wounded through their Veterans Immersion Program, offering swims or dives 365 days a year. Now, being recognized as the first WheelChariot Gold Certified organization the Aquarium’s hopes to continue expanding efforts to make their facility accessible to all by setting the example of best practices. This Gold Certification recognizes Georgia Aquarium’s exceptional efforts to make their facility accessible to all through the wide range of accessibility measures, including but not limited to: providing wheelchairs, golf carts, tactile and specialized exhibit information, and a sensory room. The Aquarium’s encounter programs are also all designed with accessibility in mind, ensuring every guest the opportunity to participate in these experiences.


“We are honored to be the first organization to receive Gold Certification from WheelChariot,” said Sam Herman, director of guest programs at Georgia Aquarium. “Every year, we see millions of guests come through our doors. Our commitment to accessibility extends beyond the basics, demonstrating our passion for providing a memorable and enriching experience for every visitor. Georgia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire awareness and preservation of our aquatic world, and we believe that every individual, regardless of their abilities, should have the opportunity to be a part of this mission.”


Georgia Aquarium’s journey toward achieving WheelChariot Gold Certification reflects on their incredible dedication to creating a more accessible and inclusive environment for guests with disabilities. With this new achievement, Georgia Aquarium aims to set a new standard for accessibility in the metro Atlanta community.


Together, WheelChariot and Georgia Aquarium are taking a significant step forward in setting a higher standard for accessibility in Atlanta, and hope this certification serves as an inspiration for other businesses looking to promote accessibility and inclusivity.


To learn more about Georgia Aquarium’s accessibility offerings, please visit georgiaaquarium.org.


For more information about WheelChariot, please visit wheelchariot.io.


For photos and videos, please see below:



For further information or media inquiries, please contact:

Gabriel Jones

CEO, WheelChariot

(678) 730-4778



Hannah Hardwick

Public Relations Specialist, Georgia Aquarium


World’s Leading Conservation Organization Advocates Critical Role of Aquariums, Zoos and Botanic Gardens for Species Survival

Center for Species Survival at Georgia Aquarium is one of just five in the United States


As sharks, rays and other wildlife populations plummet worldwide and biodiversity is lost at catastrophic rates, the world’s largest conservation organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC), released a clear message globally on October 11: Aquariums, zoos and botanic gardens are critical conservation partners, and their role should not be under-valued, under-recognized, or misunderstood.


During a press conference in San Diego, IUCN SSC released a new position statement about the critical role of zoological facilities, while also announcing the most recent Center for Species Survival focused on biodiversity biobanking.


Georgia Aquarium is one of a handful of Centers for Species Survival (CSS) in the United States. Through the partnership, the Aquarium contributes extensive expertise in marine sciences to evaluate and assess marine species at greatest risk of extinction, while contributing to conservation solutions.


“Georgia Aquarium has been at the forefront of aquatic science for years. Through the CSS partnership, we contribute and collaborate globally with a goal of reversing the staggering decline in wildlife and plant diversity,” said Dr. Alistair Dove, Vice President of Science and Education at Georgia Aquarium. “IUCN’s new position statement makes clear the critical role of aquariums and zoos in global conservation and is a call to action for greater collaboration to save species from decline.”


Georgia Aquarium recently participated in the Global Shark Trends Project, a multi-year assessment of extinction risk for 1,250 species of sharks, rays and chimaeras. The startling conclusion is that these species have declined 71 percent in the last 50 years. With the current rate of extinction estimated at three species every hour, global collaboration for species survival is more urgent than ever.


“For too long species conservation efforts have been siloed and focused at the project level, often with expertise and activities segregated between wild populations and those in human care. This position statement highlights that many botanic gardens, aquariums and zoos around the world are critical partners in species survival and in connecting with communities to inspire further action,” said Kira Mileham, director of strategic partnerships, IUCN Species Survival Commission. “It is past time that we recognize the roles that leading botanic gardens, aquariums and zoos play in saving species, that we encourage those who are not yet fulfilling these roles to do so and that we work as one united species conservation community. Only then will we succeed in halting extinctions and recovering populations of plants, animals and fungi around the world to ensure a shared future for us all.”


Georgia Aquarium conducts conservation work worldwide. One current project involves the reintroduction of endangered zebra sharks to their home range in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. Other conservation science efforts include whale shark research, coral rescue and recovery, manatee rehabilitation and more.


While Georgia Aquarium is a hub for marine ecosystems, other Centers within the United States include the Global Center for Species Survival (GCSS), based at the Indianapolis Zoo in Indiana, the CSS: New Mexico at ABQ Biopark focused on freshwater fish, pollinators and medicinal plants, CSS: Freshwater based at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, CSS: Trees based at The Morton Arboretum near Chicago, and the newest CSS: Biodiversity Biobanking based at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Twelve other Centers have been established around the world with more on the way.


To learn more about the Center for Species Survival at Georgia Aquarium,  visit https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/international-union-for-the-conservation-of-nature-iucn/


To review IUCN’s new position statement on zoos, aquariums and botanic gardens, click here.

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